Jaffa Gate Hostel

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Old City, Jerusalem, Israel

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Jaffa Gate Hostel Jerusalem Reviews

LYuri LYuri
2 reviews
If I could build a dream home... Sep 20, 2010
I review the Jaffa Gate Hostel of Jerusalem with a feeling of relief. A feeling of "Man, I should've done this years ago." The Jaffa Gate Hostel was my first ever hostel experience and it set a high bar and lasting impression. I visited Israel in January 2008 with some friends and my twin brother. My brother, much more experienced a traveler at the time, booked us a room at Jaffa Gate for $12/night (don't quote me on that one, but it sounds about right). Since then, during a 6 month stay in Israel a year later, and for each of my dozen or so visits to Jerusalem in that time, I'm certain to get a room at the Jaffa Gate and recommend it to everyone I know.

I decided I needed to review this hostel after I read some really awful and unfair reviews on the internet.

What must be noted about the Jaffa Gate Hostel is that IT IS NOT and I repeat IT IS ABSOLUTELY NOT for everyone. But it is certainly for me. And if it's for you, then there's no better place. As the title suggests - If I could build my dream home... it would be here. So clearly, location is the most important aspect of a hostel to me. The location can not be better. As soon as you come in through the - you'll never guess - the Jaffa Gate to the Old city of Jerusalem, before you get through the first main shook alley, but right at the entrance there, to the right a cafe-length, there is a teeny alley with some shops and small homes, wedged in between all this (and I do mean wedged, as the hostel does expand out after the entrance like a cone) is the Jaffa Gate Hostel. I can't say it's hard to miss, but it's not hard to find with every second local dying to show you where it is in expectation of some chump change. NOTE: This is something you may not like and me be uncomfortable with, but I have no problem denying anyone even a shekel just for pointing me to a hostel 50 yards away. And there are signs anyway, somewhere. When getting a hostel in Old City Jerusalem, you really don't want to get something deep in the city. It's not safe to walk around at night. And even if it is, it definitely doesn't feel that way. Plus, there's nothing to do. All the shops are closed, so it looks like you're walking through a complicated dungeon labyrinth. Not fun. As soon as you walk out of the hostel and make that 30 foot track out to the main square/towers at the entrance of the Jaffa Gate er... entrance, there's life all around you. It's like the tourist central hub of the Old City. Plenty of cafe's, restaurants and currency exchangers. Street vendors are of no short supply, either. At night, there's not much hustle and bustle, but right outside of the gate and 1 block to the left, there's a great shopping area with people out until the crack of dawn, and about 5 blocks up at the Ben Yehuda area (likely one of my favorite places in the world) there's a incredible tightly packed, calm, yet exciting at the same time, nightlife that is an absolute must. Never-the-less, while it's okay to come back to the hostel drunk, you can not drink there, and at the Jaffa gate square, it is okay to relax there with a drink in your hand but don't plan on getting wild. Respect your neighbors and they'll be good to you. It is, still, a great place to relax and gather with friends at night. During the day, I recommend venturing into the shuk. Get a map, it's a necessity. If you run into areas that sell things that don't seem like they're for tourists, wellll, you've gone too far. Turn around and go somewhere else. It can get tense there. The shuk entrance is a right after you get out of the Jaffa Gate entrance. The Armenian Quarter is to the left.

As an experienced camper, comforts often taken for granted and expected for others (nice comfy bed, warm shower, heat or a/c, etc...) are not really necessary and a $12/night bill can easily help me ignore them. Constantly having someone at the front desk is not a must either. These factors are such a non-issue to me that I honestly don't even remember to what extent they do or don't exist. I remember that I brushed my teeth every morning, there was a coffee machine for a shekel or two and I never had to worry about my bags being stolen. This isn't because there are so many safes or locks, it's just that the owners aren't going to steal from you if you leave your bags with you, the front entrance door is locked (to which you have the key along with your room key) and in general Arabs aren't the type to really sh*t where they sleep and even the locals won't think to break in to a hostel and steal your bags. The only possible thief would be your roommates or other guests of the hostel. As this is a very small hostel with few rooms and not the most popular spot, especially not for hooligans as drinking is not allowed, you won't have to worry. The decor is nothing special. Some typical middle-eastern photos, a couple dome of the rock photos, some ibex's and you're good to go. The rooms are not welcoming, blankets and beds are uncomfortable and scratchy, but really, who cares? What are you doing spending so much time in your hostel when you're in one of the most incredible cities in the world? Up the stairs, if you're so lucky to get a room there, is a balcony with the best view you can ask for from within the city. You can see the golden dome of the rock, you can see the top of every building, tons of domes, minarets (you get the privilege to hear them 5 times a day as well, echoing against each other and against the walls - there are few audio experiences like it), and there's a nice little patio area for you to enjoy your breakfast, lunch, dinner, and although you can't drink there - your poison for the night. Believe me, the hostel-keepers are not police. Just keep it quiet.

The hostel-keepers ARE, however, very pleasant, accommodating, not pushy, and just there for you, when they're there.

Like I said before and I would like to stress - this is not a place for everyone. This is a place to sleep uncomfortably, but a tip-top jump off point, great place to wake up and get on your way to the sights and sounds of Jlem, and a great place to rest your feet after a long day of touring, whether it be on the second floor patio with a pigeon-view of the city, or from the square out front where you're embraced by the old-city surrounding and only a couple steps away from your own room, in a building that has been around for hundreds and hundreds of years - if not longer.
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singrose says:
enjoyed reading your review! i am booked to stay here in a weeks time. looking forward to seeing the places you mentioned and may even chuckle if i get lost trying to find the place too :D
Posted on: Jun 19, 2011
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Nzelvis Nzelvis
56 reviews
Nice location in Jerusalem Apr 19, 2007
When in Jerusalem, there's no better place to stay in the Old City, and your options can be rather limited. You see, a majority of the Old City is one giant maze-like bazaar which you will find yourself trapped in for hours if not careful! The Jaffa Gate hostel is one of the hostels that is inside the walls of the old city near the Jaffa Gate. We had a bit of trouble there our first night because it was a little cold and there was no hot water in the morning! We talked with the owner's son though, and they did the best they could to accommodate us. That night we had hot water and lots of blankets! That's all I need in a hostel. The location was perfect though...I couldn't imagine coming into the Old City each day from a hotel in the new section of the city, that would just be too much work and too time consuming. The views from our room were amazing, too...it can be hard to appreciate the Old City from the ground level, but when you can see it all from your room, it's impossible not to. Just beware the Islamic chants at random hours of the day!
View from our hostel window
2 / 2 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
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singrose says:
great review, i'll be there in a weeks time! place looks ok in photos but im really keen to see this view you talked about :)
Posted on: Jun 19, 2011

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